Observing that there was an E-filing system in place in the Court, the Bombay High Court refused to take hard copies of an affidavit that the City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) wished to file in an environmental Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by an NGO that sought protection of wetlands.
A division bench of justices Gautam Patel and Gauri Godse said: “It is high time the State Government and State Government Agencies now start using the E-filing system invariably. If matters carry on like this, we will never be able to shift to a paperless environment — and that is the avowed objective and goal of the State Government itself.”
The HC was hearing a public interest litigation filed by NGO Vanashakti seeking directions to transfer over 1,500 hectares of mangroves land in possession of various departments of the state to the forest department of Maharashtra government.
In 2006, a PIL was filed by Bombay Environmental Action Group for protection and conservation of mangroves. It was in his PIL, that on September 17, 2018, the HC directed all the departments to transfer mangroves in their possession or jurisdiction to the Forest department.
Vanashakti has sought compliance of this order.
During the hearing on Wednesday, GS Hegde, advocate for the CIDCO, sought to file hard copies of an affidavit in the plea.
The judges refused to accept the affidavit observing: “We decline to take hard copies. It is incongruous that in an environmental PIL that seeks to protect wetlands, and filed by a social action group that seeks to protect forests, more and more paper is being used like this.”
The HC has directed that this order be sent to the high court’s Registrars and the Prothonotary & Senior Master “to consider issuing appropriate directions or obtaining appropriate directions from the Hon’ble the Chief Justice”.
The HC has kept the PIL for further hearing on September 13.
In October 2021, the Supreme Court E-committee had directed all High Courts to ensure that all petitions/cases filed by the government are done only by way of e-filing from January 1, 2022.